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Maine CDC opens investigation into school outbreak

September 22, 2020 GMT

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — State officials have opened an investigation into an outbreak of coronavirus that forced a school to move into full-time remote learning mode, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

The outbreak at Sanford High School and Sanford Regional Technical Center has affected a dozen people so far, Maine CDC director Nirav Shah said. He declined to say how many of the affected people are students and how many are school staff.

The Sanford investigation is the first the state has opened at a public school, Shah said. Sanford Superintendent Matt Nelson has said in a letter to the community that the school will be in remote mode for at least two weeks.

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The school is located in York County, which has been the site of several coronavirus outbreaks in recent weeks. An outbreak at the York County Jail, which is tied to a larger outbreak stemming from a northern Maine wedding, remains under investigation, Shah said.

“These latest outbreaks, in and around Sanford in particular, are continued evidence of our heightened concern for that area,” he said.

In other news related to the pandemic in Maine:

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MORE TESTING

State officials also said Tuesday that anyone in Maine can now get tested for coronavirus without the need for a separate order from a healthcare provider.

The rule change means testing sites in Maine can test anyone over the age of 12 months who believes they might need a test.

The Maine CDC said in a statement that testing should still be used wisely, and it does not recommend that residents get tested merely for peace of mind.

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RECOVERY GRANTS

Maine plans to make about $95 million in coronavirus pandemic recovery grants available to businesses and nonprofit organizations in the state.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills said the grants are a second phase of funding available via the Maine Economic Recovery Grant Program. Up to $5 million of the money will be set aside to support businesses that are less than a year old, she said.

The grant program is designed to “help sustain the viability of Maine’s small businesses and nonprofit,” the governor’s office said in a statement. It’s not intended to replace lost profits.

The state plans to start taking applications for the grants on Wednesday and continue to do so through Oct. 23. The grants will be awarded in November.

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THE NUMBERS

Another 42 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the state, the Maine Center for Disease Control said Monday.

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The total number of confirmed cases is more than 5,100, the Maine CDC said. The number of deaths remained 140. The average number of new cases per day increased to 34. It was 29 a week ago.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

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CARES ACT

Maine has received more than $6.6 million in the third installment of CARES Act funding to help affordable housing and businesses as well as improve coronavirus prevention and response.

The funding arrives at a time when many Maine communities are continuing to struggle with the economic impacts of the pandemic, Republican Sen. Susan Collins said.

“Maine’s state agencies and local governments are working hard to provide seniors, individuals with disabilities, and low-income families with safe and affordable homes that promote their health, independence, and overall wellbeing,” Collins said.